The Beep Goes On

The house I’m renting in Santa Monica is modest, but has a surprising number of smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors. Not to mention the security system detectors. When one of them started beeping, I got out a ladder to change the batteries. Then I remembered my friend Sandy’s stories about getting injured doing something simple. I decided to wait until someone else was here the next morning. Yes, I could hear the beeping through my closed bedroom door all night, but I did manage to get some sleep.

Next morning my housekeeper, Candy, and I got out the ladder and changed the batteries of the one that was beeping. Put the ladder away, only to hear BEEP. Ladder back out, We changed the batteries in the two detectors nearby. BEEP.

Smoke detector

The problem is that the house is a little odd as acoustics go. There’s a long hallway with seven rooms off it. At one end of the hall is an octagon, sound bounces around there. So we had trouble figuring out exactly where the beep was coming from. Also, the timing varied–10 seconds to 30 seconds between beeps. We kept moving around, changing our minds about where the sound was. Finally we decided to change all the batteries. BEEP.

Now we took down all the detectors, took the batteries out, and left them on the kitchen counter. BEEP. Climbed up into the attic. Opened every closet and checked all the walls and ceilings. BEEP. Time to get the landlord involved.

Alarm crash detector

The landlord sent over handyman Paul. He pretty much repeated everything we had done, but he also took down the smoke detector that’s connected to the alarm system. We were sure that was the culprit (what else could it be?) and started planning what order to put everything back up. That’s when the alarm patrol guy, Scott, showed up to see why my house was on fire. And…BEEP. Plus every time we touched one of the alarm detectors, the alarm would go off, which was a whole other type of beeping.

Alarm panel. Also beeps.

We took down the air conditioning intake filter (which was filthy), nothing up there. Back up into the attic. All of us stood and listened, and when we heard it we’d all be pointing in different directions. Scott got on the phone to the alarm company. They had no clue, but offered to send out an emergency tech the next day ($180 for that). I was pretty sure the beeping would drive me crazy before that. I was deciding which dog-friendly hotel I should check in to, when Scott had an idea.

Alarm smoke detector. Falsely accused

We took down all the alarm crash detectors, too. Note, we were labeling and organizing these as we took them down so we’d know where to put them back up. If we ever did. Now no electronics were on my walls and ceilings, they were all arranged on my kitchen counter. The beep was coming from somewhere else.

Paul got back on the ladder and took Every Single Thing out of the linen closet. Put all that back, and took Every Single Thing out of the laundry closet. Where he found a carbon monoxide detector, connected to nothing, under a pile of towels. Beeping.

Carbon monoxide detector

No, I don’t know why it was there. My guess is the landlord had an extra one and put it there temporarily, and it got covered up. Paul got approval for all new detectors and a new air filter and headed off to the hardware store. I canceled the emergency alarm tech visit. Scott left to go check on his mother, who had fallen and left him a message. Paul installed everything and we listened. Silence.

I don’t know why the smoke detector sent out a fire alarm, but I’m glad it did because Scott was a big help. Although we did look in the laundry closet many times, apparently we never happened to open it when a beep occurred. If we hadn’t emptied that closet, we’d probably still be looking.

So all of my smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors, and alarm sensors sure are bringing me peace of mind. Just not all that much sleep.